Refreshing Retreats

Four places to relax and recharge … whether you want plenty of pampering or a full schedule of outdoor adventures.

Cavalier Hotel

For decades, the luxurious Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach has been a popular seaside destination and magnet for Hollywood stars and world leaders, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and 10 U.S. presidents, from Calvin Coolidge to Jimmy Carter. Following an extensive $85-million makeover, the famous Virginia landmark gracing Atlantic Avenue reopened in 2018, retaining much of its Prohibition-era charm—classic appointments, including clawfoot tubs and plush fabrics, meet contemporary style and convenience in each of the 85 guest rooms and suites.

If swimming is your thing, visit the newly renovated oceanfront Cavalier Beach Club, which features semi-private beach access, a seaside infinity pool, a poolside bar and grill, and private locker rooms with showers. Guests also enjoy a full array of beach services, from private beach cabanas and loungers, to beach chairs, towels, and more. “We are excited to bring back the energy of the Jazz Age and usher in a new era for visitors looking for a truly unique Virginia Beach oceanfront experience,” says Bruce Thompson, CEO of Gold Key/PHR, which owns the hotel.

But your Cavalier experience wouldn’t be complete without the other services that make the historic hotel a popular seaside destination, including the luxurious SeaHill Spa with its nine treatment rooms (make sure to try a relaxing marine- or even bourbon-inspired massage). Or head to one of the hotel’s three restaurants offering farm-to-table cuisine and spirits distilled in-house. CavalierHotel.com 

Essex Inn

Photo by Janet Cummins

Essex Inn

Photo by Janet Cummins

A historic sanctuary perched on the shore of the Rappahannock River, The Essex Inn in Tappahannock offers gracious accommodations and convenience to the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck. Built in 1851, this imposing Greek-Revival style structure of white stucco over brick sits atop a high English basement and boasts eight stylish and modern guestrooms and suites, each with its own fireplace and en suite bathroom, surrounding large central hallways on each floor. It has changed hands many times throughout the decades but remained a private residence until it underwent significant renovations and opened as the Essex Inn. 

“The river is a half block walk from the Inn and is a perfect spot to visit anytime, especially for the sunrise and sunset,” says owner Janet Cummins. “There is easy access to the water, and you can enjoy different activities, including kayaking and other boat trips in the area.” Cummins has been living at the inn fulltime since last May, when she and her husband, Jeff, wrapped up their lives in Northern Virginia and made the move to Tappahannock. Jeff has since passed away, leaving Cummins in charge. 

Cummins takes pride in the inn’s repertoire of interesting foods and taste combinations, much of which is sourced locally. Breakfast favorites include French toast topped with a seasonal berry compote and the always popular creamy egg strata with cheeses—all included, along with afternoon snacks, wine, and beer.

Guests also have access to a refrigerator and microwave, Wi-Fi, cable TV, air conditioning, hair dryers, and irons, and can enjoy the outdoor patio in nice weather. Kayak rentals are also available. EssexInnVa.com 

Claytor Lake State Park

Photo courtesy of Virginia DCR

For a luxurious take on camping, book a waterfront cabin at Claytor Lake State Park in Dublin. Rentals with two, three, or six bedrooms are available year-round through Virginia State Parks—the larger cabins can sleep up to 16 people, making them perfect for family holiday getaways. The climate-controlled cabins are equipped with kitchens, fireplaces, rustic furniture, expansive decks, and outdoor fire pits and grills. (There are no televisions, so pack some board games!) Take in the lake views in a rocking chair on the back porch in the early morning hours, or get out on the water for a myriad of activities. 

For more traditional camping, Claytor Lake also offers yurts April through October and campsites March through December. The yurts do not have bathrooms or electricity; campsites are divided into four campgrounds, one of which can accommodate RVs and has water and electric hookups, and three of which are located in more wooded terrain for tents. DCR.Virginia.gov/state-parks 

Rose River Farm

Photo by Douglas Dear

Pairing luxurious accommodations with outstanding outdoor activities, Rose River Farm in Syria is a favorite escape for sporting enthusiasts. Nestled in the Blue Ridge foothills, the farm is conveniently located for hiking Old Rag or exploring the many trails in Shenandoah National Park, and owner Douglas Dear is happy to help guests arrange horseback riding, bird hunting, and sporting clay shoots, as well. Several wineries are also just a short drive away. 

But Rose River Farm’s specialty is fly fishing. Designed by Dear to mimic the uncrowded fly fishing he experienced in western states, the farm boasts some of the best private fly fishing in the state. Four species of trout swim the farm’s cold, clear waters, and they are plentiful thanks to a strict catch and release policy. “With the good rains and mild temps we had over the winter, spring fishing conditions look to be some of the best we have had in years,” Dear says, adding that he welcomes both experienced and beginning anglers, and offers guides and lessons as needed. If you want to venture farther afield, guides are also available for nearby public fishing options, include Whiteoak Canyon and the Rapidan, Conway, and Upper Rose rivers. 

Stay onsite in one of Rose River Farms’ three beautifully appointed cabins. Modeled on Mongolian yurts, the cabins have soaring 17-foot ceilings and round cedar walls. Each two bedroom, two bathroom cabin features a full kitchen, comfortable club furnishings, a television, climate control, and gorgeous views of the nearby Blue Ridge mountains. RoseRiverFarm.com


This article originally appeared in our April 2020 issue.

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